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David Btesh of Pacific Realty / Pacific Developers – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Fort Amador 1989, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPanama is a safe country but like anywhere in the world, if you take the wrong turn, you could wind up in a bad area.  However, in Panama, there are very few places to take a wrong turn.  If you go to a bar in the middle of nowhere, theoretically you may see somebody get knifed or some other guy may break a bottle over your head, but that’s not going to happen unless you seek out a very bad location. And Panama is such a small country that everyone knows where the bad locations are.  In Panama, everybody knows what you had for breakfast!
 
Violent crime is very unlikely in the expat areas. Some expats live in Coronado and some live in Chiriquí (primarily Boquete and Volcan). A lot of them live in the city (Panama City). Many of them went to school in Balboa, like I did, in what at the time was the American sector, in the communities of Clayton, Albrook, Amador, etc.  The Americans built these areas in 1914 when the canal was finished, so the roads are all beautiful and wider than in other places in Panama. Today, everything is like the people who grew up there remembered it. The people who came back here to Panama to live came back to retire because Panama is cheaper, and it’s more quiet.  They can now buy a property in the areas where they used to live.  The reason is that, even though these areas were rented to the United States for eternity, they were given back to us in 2000, at which time, these lands became accessible and buyable by anybody who wants to buy them.
 
These areas are in a safe area, just like they would be if you were in the United States.  Even in the heart of Panama City, it’s like Miami. Right here, where I am writing this, is like Bal Harbor in Miami. Two blocks from here it is like South Miami, with the same level of safety.
 
(Building 7 in Fort Amador Panama taken in 1989, pictured.)
Ron Hunter of Finca Cazador – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama near the Costa Rica border, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI’ve been in Panama on and off for 20 years. For two years, I lived in a barrio called Caledonia in Panama City, which is quite unsafe, but in every part of the world, there are parts where you can get into trouble if you’re not careful. I grew up in the Los Angeles area where there are also parts that are unsafe. 
 
Safety from an expat’s point of view varies. Many expats here in Chiriquí live in gated communities and I think that is an indication that they feel unsafe, but in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I’m from, there are also many gated communities. Although there are crimes of convenience throughout Central America, I feel completely safe in Panama.
 
When I lived for 40 years in Cave Creek, a northern suburb of Phoenix in Arizona, I did not have a key to my house, and I never locked the door. My comfort zone in the Sonoran desert in Arizona was higher than it is here in Chiriquí. If I leave my house here in Chiriquí, I certainly lock my door, although I don’t really feel at risk here. 
 
One of the reasons that I chose to live in this small rural area in Chiriquí is because rural areas are far safer than the urban areas. Safety as an expat is a function of how well you interact with the locals. An expat is never going to be a local, however, but you don’t have stand out like a sore thumb and be something that they consider an intrusion into their lifestyle. 
 
I try to be part of the community. My Spanish isn’t perfect but I certainly speak it enough to get by. I say hello to everybody and not just to the wealthy class in Central America. I give everybody rides and try to be one of the locals.  
 
I might be considered a little eccentric because my farm is organic and everybody else sprays, and I’m very outspoken about that issue. On every other level, I’m just the type who says, “Hola! Còmo estàs,?” to everybody. 
 
I feel safe here in a rural area in the Chiriquí Province close to the Costa Rica border. In some larger urban areas in Panama and Mexico, you’re more at risk. 
 
(Panama near the Costa Rica border, Panama, pictured.)
kevin obrien of BarefootPanama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Boquete road with a cow – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAbsolutely, Panama is safe. It is one of the safest countries I have ever been to. Any city has its areas where you don’t go after dark and that’s pretty standard. People go out everywhere but for the most part, crime in Panama is petty crime such as breaking and entering, pick-pocketing, and other things like that, which is still crime, but it is a safe crime because these are not crimes against your person. Overall, I believe Panama is the safest country I’ve been to.
 
Panama City is a very big city and there are sections that are better than others, but all throughout the country for the most part, it’s very safe. You’re going to find a lot of breaking and entering if you leave your house alone, but it’s so safe for you as a person.
 
(The peaceful countryside around Boquete, Panama, pictured.)
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
SAFETY.
 
This is the main concern of any citizen anywhere in the world.
 
When you think of moving, your budget and safety concerns are very important to research very carefully.
 
With all the things going around worldwide, is very difficult to find any country that does not have any kind of violence or crime.  It is very important to take in consideration the international organizations´s reports.
 
Usually big cosmopolitan cities have the tendency to have these types of problems, so, is not a bad idea to look into other areas with less percentage of crime.  Talk to judges, attorneys, law enforcement agencies, non profit organizations or taxi drivers.  They are the ones to give the best advice, as they do not have to please anybody; just give you the facts.
 
Recently, a list of the 50 most violent cities in the world was published in one of the most important media outlet on the Internet.  Out of those, there were some in important cities in the United States, some in Brazil, and the rest, spread through out  the world, including very few in Latin America, but none in Panamá.  Surprisingly, none of the cities listed were those in which there were were real battles are taken place.  I guess they're referring only to local crimes.
 
As to the city of Panamá, through the years, it has not been on any of those lists.  As a matter of fact, the percentage of crime here is way below the average of a big city.  This is not saying that, with the recent years growth, the city of Panamá has not acquired some very bad, manipulative and sophisticated crime techniques that were never in this small country.  But that is the price of being a big city.
 
The good thing is that there is a massive international effort to solve these problems and land security summits to stop all the gangs, as well as other important issues that concern any country that worries about their citizens.  This is all done in addition to having environmental laws, which are so important, if we want to live on a safe planet.
 
Also, the crime you hear about here in Panamá is usually related to drugs, or domestic violence (mainly in the countryside).  But within regular neighborhoods, with citizens that are not involved in any of these activities, there is a pleasant life.  Just take advantage of everything that Panamá has to offer, especially their unique weather (sunshine year-round), warm people,  investment opportunities, and the opportunity to grow your very own fresh fruits and vegetables; or enjoying your hammock, or a simple hike into one of the numerous beautiful hills or beaches.  Maybe a horseback ride here and there, or, as many in the expat communities do, enjoy one another for lunches, or afternoon get together's.
 
But I sincerely think that it is up to every individual to take precautions, as you would take in your personal environmental to protect your household and your own body.  When it comes to your health, you do whatever is necessary to be healthy. Same thing with safety.  Maybe you feel comfortable having a dog or an alarm, or closed circuit cameras.  Everything is possible, and nothing is too much when it comes to your family's safety and peace of mind.
 
But one thing is for sure: you can´t be afraid.  Just be careful where you go, and not be pretentious.  Try to go to the malls or recognized public places.  And always bring copies of all your important documents handy, as well as your local law enforcement and important phone numbers, in case of any issue.  Anything can happen, any time, anywhere.  No country is exempt, no matter how hard they try to offer safety.
 
T Rob Brown of Panama Helpline – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Deputy Attorney General of Panama and National Police Commanders address Neighbors Helping Neighbors Member – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAs the founder of The Panama Helpline, a 24 hour bilingual emergency response line, I am in a unique position to hear about most crimes that take place in the interior of Panama (our coverage area is Chamé to Penonomé, inlcuding El Valle and Altos del Maria).
 
Our community Safety Group now has almost 400 members (200 paid households with 2 people per household). We get one or two calls a day for a variety of related issues: flat tires, dead batteries, stolen property and petty thefts.
 
Yes, we do get the occasional robbery and home invasion, so the hype that Panama is completely safe is irresponsible. Most people have layers of security - metal bars on windows and doors, motion detector lights, fences, alarms and most have dogs - and this for the most part keeps people safe.
 
In Panama City there were over 500 murders last year. HOWEVER (and this is a BIG however), if you were not buying or selling drugs, you will never hear or see anything about these drug-related killings.
 
That said, there are areas of Panama City and Colon that you should not go into. Find out where they are and stay out; it is simple.
 
Show up at an outdoor ATM with a flowery gringo shirt, half in the bag at 2 AM and you are asking for trouble, in any country in the world, including here. Join Panama Helpline and you will have English speaking assistance at your fingertips, twenty-four hours a day. Ambulance, Fire, Police, Tow truck and Roadside Assistance.
 
(Deputy Attorney General of Panama and National Police Commanders address Neighbors Helping Neighbors Members, pictured.)
John Derry of Serenity Vista Alcohol & Drug Addiction Rehab Retreat – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Yes, Panama is a safe and welcoming country to move to. We moved here from Canada and feel at home and very safe. We always feel welcomed wherever we go, not treated like a foreigner. The Panamanian people tend to be gentle and reserved. With the difficulty in language, there is often little communication with the locals, but never out of disrespect.
 
Panama is known as having one of the lowest crime rates of all Latin American counties. There is of course the usual petty crime that we hear of from time to time, but nothing more concerning than what might make the news in British Columbia or Toronto. 
 
 
Denise MacDonald of My Panama Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
As a Canadian living in Panama, I always discuss this question of whether or not Panama is safe with my clients. Believe me when I say it IS different for a Canadian than an American, as Canadians in general are not used to guns or much violence really. 
 
When we first moved to Panama we lived in a house. We were advised to have at least one dog and to bring him into the house at night. There have been instances where the dog(s) are poisoned in order to gain access to the house. There are many stray dogs in Panama and providing a loving home to one or two seemed like a logical step. We lived in a house for 2 years and followed the numerous recommendations from others, such as keeping the front of the house locked when we were in the back, putting all of our valuables in a safe when we were out of the house and at night, not leaving empty boxes from expensive purchases in the open garbage bin for others to see, etc.
 
My husband had to return to Canada for an extended period of time, so I moved into a condo in Coronado. I have to say it was a great relief to not worry about all the bars and windows being locked, regular use of the safe, and always worrying. The simplicity of closing the door behind me was blissful!
 
I carry a stun gun with me in my purse, as well as pepper spray, both purchased at a kiosk in Albrook Mall. I can honestly say that I've never had reason to reach for either of them. However, I also tend to not travel alone in the evenings, walk alone at night and follow other - what I consider to be sensible precautions. I wear no diamonds and carry very little cash with me.
 
Just as you would in your native country: Be smart; Be aware of your surroundings; Be wise. 
Terry Bradford of Origen Real Estate Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
As far as walking down the street, I could go out at 3 AM and walk by myself down the Cinta Costera or in the Amador Causeway all the way up to TGIF or the Balboa Yacht Club and have a glass of wine and I would be completely safe. There is a lot of security in this country because of the Panama Canal.
 
When they put money into an ATM, they close down that entire block, the Brink’s truck pulls up to put money in the ATM, and everybody is fine. When you go to a bank, you will not be able to walk in with a hat on; you have to take it off. You also have to open your purse so they can briefly scan what you have in your purse. We do not have bank robberies because they would not make it past the guards anyway. Their security measures are all preventative.
 
The guards here in Panama and even the Policia Nacional are very approachable and very friendly. You can walk up to them and talk to them or even take pictures with them. I even had pictures taken with the people who guard the president’s quarters in Casco Viejo. They are very approachable people.
 
There is a lot of security in Panama and that makes everyone feel safe. I feel safer in the country of Panama than I did in the US, which is the country I came from. 
Karen Walter of Local Travel Excursions – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Safety was a primary reason for my relocation choice to Panama.  I have enjoyed travel in some other Central American countries, but when my mother decided to move with me, Panama was the only choice.  I personally walk alone around all parts of Panama City and many other parts of the country and feel very comfortable.  Common sense must be used at all times and a good sixth sense always helps. 
 
There are dangerous places in every country, but Panama has a reputation to be safe for a reason.  I encourage those I talk with to explore Panama with a good map to plan their travels and don't be afraid to ask for directions.  Many will be more than happy to assist you in reaching your destination.  For those who do not speak Spanish, do not allow that to deter your plans.  You will most often find even more assistance from those concerned that the gringo makes it home safely. 
Roberto Diaz of United Country Panama Coastal Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama is safe.  On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is the worst place in the planet (e.g., war-torn places in the Middle East and Africa) and 10 is the best, I would consider Panama an 8.  
 
I have a beautiful wife who happens to be from the US, so she stands out.  I also have an amazing little blond girl and they are both very important to me.  I feel extremely comfortable with them being on their own, going back and forth to do their day-to-day events without having to worry that something bad will happen to them.  
 
It is very important to obviously choose the right place to live in order to feel as safe as I do. For instance, if you live in Colon or in certain parts of Panama City, you might not feel as safe as I do.  However, if you live in a place like Coronado, Panama, well, its a totally different story.  
 
It's also smart to exercise caution no matter where you live.  Simple things like not been overly flashy with your money.  There is no need to take your Rolex everywhere you go.  No need to allow other people to see your wallet packed with hundred dollar bills.  Plain common sense will go a long way in keeping you safe.
 
Also, once you choose a place to live, make sure your property has security measures. Fences, bars on the windows, alarms, video cameras, signs stating you have video cameras, not giving people you've just met access to your keys, perhaps getting a dog, these are all things you can do to prevent the few rotten apples around to start thinking they can invade your peace and quietness.  For a Panamanian like me, its always been a way of life.  Deter the criminals from even considering your home.  The more security you have, the more discouraged those bad elements will be.  They will think, THIS IS TO MUCH EFFORT, LETS FIND ANOTHER PLACE.  
 
 
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama is safe, as long as you take the proper steps.
 
Common sense is one of the major qualities a person can have, along with a tremendous sense of humor.  This combination can bring you all the way to a very positive situation.  Why?  Because crime exists in every corner of the universe.  In some towns, crime is more likely than in others towns, but no town is exempt.  It is up to you to make the difference.
 
Lately, Panama is making every possible effort to minimize crime in every way, from drug busts to new Internet spam laws.  The government of Panama just purchased high tech radar, boats and many other items in order to detect human trafficking, mainly of women from some European countries who are brought into Latin America.  The Ministry of Security is constantly monitoring the borders of Colombia and Costa Rica through joint efforts with those governments to bring crime to zero, if possible, and to socialize gangs coming from other countries.
 
The new mega project in the underprivileged neighborhood of El Chorrillo, along with the last similar one in Curundu has been very much recognized as a great step by the government of Panama to improve the quality of life for these residents, where in the past, this was a negative image.  Now, the residents of these underprivileged areas are so proud with the new "Cinta Costera," which has a modern stadium in which they can play, as well as many sport stations for youngsters.  The people were part of the project, as the construction work was made by them, and for them.  The people are very proud that finally, a government took them into consideration, and changes have been put into motion in a very positive way.   For these residents, there is now a new challenge in their life, and a new attitude.
 
Panama does not have an army, but it does have a very good police force.  Every year, more and more trained officers graduate from the Academy.  Soon, a new police force will be patrolling the streets, mainly in special neighborhoods that have a negative image. These police will be the "community police", and people will interact with them as friends.
 
And why do I say that common sense and good humor is a key to safety?  Because nobody with common sense will go out and display tons of money in the street, or leave very expensive items unattended.  (That’s the “common sense” part.)  And if something were to happen, for example, you getting lost, instead of being afraid, take a good opportunity to have a positive attitude towards the situation, and not get frustrated and blame everything and everybody, but rather, take responsibility for the real situation that started it.  And then, have a good laugh.
 
Regarding trusting people?  Well, as in every place, there are very good and honest people, as well as dishonest ones.  If you happen to find one or the other, it’s just an experience that cannot be generalized.  Usually, Panamanians are very easygoing, and help in any way they can.  Just be careful when you hire a person.  Ask for references, as well as immigration papers for the foreign ones.
 
Shai Gold of International-Triage Medical Networks – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama City is safe by any measure when compared to US cities of same size.  It is SUPER SAFE when compared to any other city in Latin America. The tourist areas are safe, as are the malls, the banking district and the highways.  The environment feels safe and it is evidenced by many storefronts that are not covered by roll-up security gates.  Panama has a long tradition of accepting foreigners into their society.  Foreigners are treated with respect as LONG as they give respect.   
 
Government statistics suggest that major crimes have declined in the past two years.  This is attributed to full employment (4% unemployment in major cities) and visible presence of police (Colombian style police dressed up in military cloths, neighborhood cops and car patrols with flashing lights).  
 
I concur with the other contributors regarding the peaceful nature of Panamanians. Nevertheless, and in any location, one should use CAUTION and use the following principles: 
 
1) Do NOT leave valuables in parked cars.  
2) DO NOT leave cell phones and laptops, unattended, in plain view
3) Purchase a home safe for your portable valuables and cash.  
4) DO NOT TRUST YOUR MAID / Housekeeper, or groundskeepers.
5) Do not give a "crime of opportunity" an opportunity... 
6) Consider owning a dog.  
 
Road Safety:
 
The roads in Panama are NOT in best shape, either in the city or out of town.  Visitors and new residents are best advised to rent or buy a 4x4 SUV.  There are many models on the market.  Nissan X-Trail and Toyota Rv4 are the most popular mid size 4x4 cars on the market here. 
Elizabeth Archer of Tucan Golf Club and Resort – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama is one of the safest countries that I have ever traveled to. Of all the many places that my husband and I have driven in Panama, we have never felt threatened or fearful for our safety.
 
Craig Morrissey of Hospital Nacional – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama is a safe country, but one should always use common sense as well.  With any large city, there are absolutely places that need to be avoided and are considered dangerous.  Also, you should be aware that theft is a problem and that you must pay closer attention than you might be used to.  For example, while in a restaurant, if you leave your cell phone on your table when you go to the bathroom, it may not be there when you get back.
 
Col Davis Stevenson RET of Condor Tours & Travel, Inc – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
A question that is often asked by our clients is about the safety in Panama. Panama is as safe as most major population centers here in the USA. Naturally if one wanders into a part of town which is not even safe for the locals you may not feel that Panama is a safe country.
 
As a resident one becomes very aware of the areas of Panama or the City to stay away from. If you are a visitor the smart thing will be to ask your host hotel about the safe areas of the city as well as what is the best way to find restaurants and tourism sites that are safe to visit. Many of the more popular sites have policemen on bikes that patrol the areas and who are watching out for the visitors in that area.
Joseph Ennis of Spanish Panama (Spanish language school) – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Having traveled to every country in Latin American I would certainly say that Panama is on or near the top of the list in terms of safety. (But take precautions anyway!)
 
There are a few tough neighborhoods that may be better avoided for the average tourist such as Chorrillo (completely), areas of Colon, and parts of Casco Viejo at night.  But these are places where one is unlikely to go as they are outside the typical.expat route. As a traveler, as in most places in the world, it is best not to make yourself a target by wearing expensive jewelry.
 
Try to fit in a bit and observe the locals. Even if you haven't learned Spanish yet it is a good idea to walk with a local newspaper- that way, locals (and potential thieves) see you as a local. This is a trick you can use anywhere in the world.
 
An interesting point about Panama City; this is one of the few places I have noticed where locals and police will often tell a tourist not to walk in certain areas. I have also seen policemen on bikes following tourists when they notice that they are near areas where there may be thieves.
 
As in many places in the world it isn't a good idea to take a taxi when there is another passenger present.
 
Be careful when leaving a bar after drinking as this is another situation that thieves look out for.
 
Also, do not be the flashy American. Remember that the minimum wage in Panama is $375 a month. It is never a good idea to show a large amount of cash in public or even when buying things at a store. What may be small change to you is not necessarily perceived that way by locals.
 
One simple thing that women especially should be careful of is leaving a handbag or laptop (or anything) unattended, when, for example, going to a bathroom in a restaurant or coffee shop. I have also talked to women who lost their bag even while sitting down at a table and leaving their bag out of sight (like on the floor).
 
I know that these kinds of things happen everywhere, and all in all, I still believe that Panama is safer than the majority of American cities.
Bill Hamilton of Bill Hamilton – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama is basically a very safe country. As in any country there are certain areas that you do not go to. El Chorillo near Casco Viejo should not be entered at all nor the city in Colon. One end of the Avda. España can be a little precarious too as with Caledonia. Apart from that the city is safe. Casco Viejo is a safe place also.
 
In Caledonia last week someone staying with us was wearing a gold chain which was snatched from around his neck. One rule is not to wear or carry any visible valuables.
 
Panamanians are in general very easy going and very helpful people.
Michael Ducharme of Lotus Garden – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Yes, Panama is one of the safest countries in the world. No country that I know of can claim to be crime-free, but in general, the Panamanians are non-violent and unconfrontational.

Canadians have a reputation for being pacifists, but I would suggest that Panamanians may be even more deserving of that honor than we are. In the 23 years that I lived in Canada, I have seen thousands of fights. Most of these were on hockey rinks, but several dozen of these were on the streets, in bars, and I have even seen a brawl at a wedding. No kidding. In all these cases, crowds of people gathered around to watch the brutal displays and blood spilling. I once broke up a girl fight and moments later I was attacked by twelve men. Apparently I ruined the night's entertainment.

I have been in Panama for ten years, and I have yet to witness a fist fight or even a shoving match anywhere.

There are some gang-related shootings in specific "red zones" but I am not aware of this ever having affected a tourist or an expat.

There is one Canadian man named Ed Moynan that is missing since November 8, 2012. The only suspects are expats.

The only known serial killer in Panamanian history is an American man dubbed "Wild Bill", who killed other Americans to take their property.

Overall, it would be hard to find a country safer than Panama.

If you're interested in Safety in other places, look here...

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